We were “over” Waco, Capt. Buttface and I.
Well, actually, me more than Buttface.
I hated Waco with a black passion. Buttface was simply ready to move on.
Our grand plan was to buy Harleys and travel across America in 1981 or 1982.
Getting our kicks on Route 66.
Fear and Loathing on the Biker Trail.
Sleeping under picnic tables at roadside campgrounds.
Eating leftover pizza after clean-looking families left their booths at the Pizza Hut.
Maybe sweeping out bars (me) or working as a bouncer (Buttface) for a night’s room and board.
Experiencing and chronicling the rawness and promise of America, as only two stud hoss ex-journalists from the Waco Tribune-Herald could do.
THAT was the plan.
But first we had to buy bikes. The detail work, like learning to RIDE them, would come later.
My only previous experience riding motorcycles were less than spectacular.
When I was about 12, a friend who lived in an apartment complex had a mud track in the back, and a neighbor with a 50cc Honda Mini Trail minibike. I could get around the muddy track without killing myself at least half the time.
Then, when I was 16, a friend left his Suzuki 125 motorcycle at my house for a few months. I promised my parents that I would NOT ride it, I was only STORING it for ‘Stine. So, of course, when my parents went to the lake, I would hoon around on Mike’s motorcycle.
I was a total bad-ass.
But, since I have a hook instead of a left hand, using the clutch was a bit of a challenge. I worked that out. But I had absolutely no motorcycle riding skills and even less good judgement.
I remember almost getting killed once when I pulled out onto busy Main Street.
I revved too high, popped the clutch, and stood the bike almost 90 degrees straight up.
I panicked and completely let off the throttle. Since the bike was still in first gear, it slammed the front end back down onto the street.
I started bunny hopping down the road, as a very large Ford came uncomfortably close to making me its hood ornament. I’m still not sure how I survived that one.
I had WAY MORE motorcycling experience under my belt than Buttface, so he would be my wing man, and not the other way round.
There were three fundamental problems with my plan.
First, I had no money. I mean, I was a reporter in Waco fricken Texas earning about $200 a week. So I figured I’d worry about that later.
Second, I had a 28-inch inseam. This was significant because motorcycles, unlike cars, have only two wheels and have a real problem with gravity when you stop.
Third, we’d decided that we needed at least 650cc’s worth of bike to travel across America. And when I sat on one of these suckers, Point Two became something of a stumbling block because my feet did not reach the ground.
But when you are a young man, all testosteroned up and on a mission, trivial details do not deter you.
Every day for weeks I looked in the classified ads.
Then, finally, I spotted EXACTLY what I needed — a low-mileage, one-owner, urgent-sale, no-reasonable-offer-refused Honda 650.
BTW, Hondas had replaced Harleys when we discovered that they cost three times what our cars were worth.
So with the Honda ad in hand, as soon as I got off work I rocketed over to a mobile home park outside of Waco.
Big Red Brute
And that Honda was beautiful. Big. Red. Brutish.
I could just SEE myself on it, blasting down the highway at 120mph.
The Honda’s owner was missing one or more teeth, wearing a stained white undershirt, and drinking a bottle of beer. His woman was pregnant and well over 250 pounds, but she had a lovely smile.
Her fella, noticing my hook and 28-inch inseam, was not overly happy about me taking his bike for a test ride.
“Dwayne, give him you damn keys,” the woman said to her man, then she flashed me a smile that said, “I’m with you little feller, go for it!”
Moments later, after the big Honda had fallen over and I could not lift the damn thing back up, she hollered again at Dwayne, “Well don’t just stand there! Hep him pick it up.”
Put off the Grand Adventure?
I set about researching for a highway-worthy motorcycle that had a very, very low slung seat. I knew it was out there.
Because it was our destiny, Buttface and mine, to go totally Hunter S. Thompson across America, gaining fame and fortune and tatoos, in equal proportion.
But I was wrong
That was not our destiny.
The first hint came when Capt. Buttface suggested that, really, we didn’t technically have to have motorcycles to tour America’s backroads.
We could still sleep under picnic tables and eat leftover pizza and sweep out bars, but we’d take his Toyota Tercel.
Upon that suggestion, I called Buttface many bad names, most of which implied that, despite his extraordinarily large, hairy butt — look, we sailed the Moon Cricket and swam nekkid in Lake Waco, so shut up — he was a girl of the highest order, a pink pantaloon wearing Nancyboy in a Tercel.
Hunter S. would NEVER have been caught dead in a Tercel. If he had, he would have written “Worry & Bother on the Campaign Trail.” Not Fear and Loathing.
But come to find out, it really wasn’t about the Tercel.
And Buttface was not a Nancyboy.
He was in heat
No, he was in love.
With the little blonde reporter who had joined the paper a few months ago.
I was pissed off.
Boy, was I pissed off.
But fate is fate.
And Capt. Buttface’s fate was to get hitched to the fiery young blonde reporter who nicknamed him Buttface.
Mine was to go to Singapore and meet my missus.
But, three decades later, in my mind’s eye, I can still see Buttface and I, cruising down the road on big bikes, looking so damn cool.
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